“How can God just do nothing?”
This was the vulnerable and honest question I got from someone in the audience during a recent Q&A. The pain in her question was deep. The ache in her faith was real. And, gracious, do I ever understand what that feels like.
Perhaps you understand, too.
I remember feeling so disillusioned during my journey with my husband, Art, when he was unfaithful and our marriage was imploding. For years, all I could see from my vantage point was Art doing whatever he wanted with no apparent intervention by God at all. And when you’re suffering so much that each next breath seems excruciating, and the one causing the pain is seemingly thriving and prospering, it’s easy to start assuming God is doing nothing.
But we don’t serve a do-nothing God. He is always working.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. He walked through years of rejection, false accusation, wrongful imprisonment and seemingly was forgotten … but with God, there is always a meanwhile. God was bringing about something only He could do with the circumstances before Joseph. He was positioning Joseph and preparing him to be used to help save the lives of millions of people during a famine that would have otherwise destroyed multiple nations.
God is always doing something.
Unlike in the Joseph story, sometimes we don’t get to see on this side of eternity how God is working in our most painful experiences. But I can let the way God worked in Joseph’s story be a reminder of His faithfulness in my story.
I’ve been able to have conversations with Art in our reconciliation now that allow me to go back and correct some of my assumptions that life was fun and incredible for him during the years he was living a lie. God was still at work in my husband even when I couldn’t see the evidence.
But even more than that, sin itself contains punishment built in. Art would tell you today he was miserable back then. He felt trapped inside of a lie that required him to put on a show, looking like he was having the time of his life. But that show required numbing substances that were killing him. It was a trap with vicious teeth dug so deeply down into his soul, he can’t talk about those years without begging others not to get caught in this same kind of nightmare.
Sin always masquerades as fun and games. But pull back the curtain of the deceived human heart, and what you’ll find hiding there will drive you to your knees to pray for that person. And maybe that’s the very reason God instructs us to pray for our enemies. Job 15:20 reminds us, “The wicked man writhes in pain all his days” (ESV). And Psalm 44:15 says “All day long my dishonor is before me And my humiliation has overwhelmed me” (NASB).
As St. Augustine, a fourth-century Christian theologian, says, sin “becomes the punishment of sin.” But never forget God is there in the midst of it all. No matter how good someone makes sinful choices seem, that isn’t the complete story. God knows the full truth. With Art, God wasn’t just trying to change his behavior. He was rescuing his soul. There was never one moment when God was doing nothing.
Oh, friend, the heartbreaks you carry are enormous. And if no one else has ever said this to you, I want to: I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. Your hurt matters. Not only do I care about you, but so does God.
Don’t miss the tremendous amount of tenderness we find in our key verse today, “… casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5:7).
Keep trusting Him. He sees you. He loves you. And He knows exactly what needs to happen in every detail of your story. You do not serve a do-nothing God.
Father God, I’m so thankful for the reminder that You are always doing something. Please help me to keep trusting You, even when I don’t understand what You’re doing. I know You see me. You love me. And You have not for one second forsaken me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Matthew 5:44-45a, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (NIV)